Roncesvalles to Zubiri

08/21/2018

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The lobby of Casa de Beneficiados, our hotel in Roncesvalles.

Late evening is the time of day that the Spaniards thrive.  One is hard-pressed to find a place to eat prior to 8pm. Traditionally dinner is an event that includes sobremesa, a time after eating, before getting up from the table. It is a time for chatting, socializing a bit more, time to allow the food to digest, a time to nourish the soul and drink a tad more wine. As much as I appreciate and love this wonderful custom I am nothing more than tired pilgrim thinking of the bed that awaits me.  This was another restless night where sleep evaded me. I’ve come to the conclusion large meals so late at night do not agree with me.

In general breakfast in Spain is a light mid-morning bite consisting of café con leche and a croissant.  Thank goodness hotels generally begin service at 8am and provide a few hearty options. My favorite breakfast item is the Spanish torta, a potato, egg quiche type dish which fortifies the body for the walk ahead.  Our luggage is in the lobby, we check in to new lodging at the end of the days thirteen plus mile (21.6km) walk. Thank goodness our luggage is transported and we only need to carry our snacks and water.

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Although we’ve only been together for a short few days the comradery within the group deepens and we are becoming a family.  We are into day four and the luggage of one of our peregrinos (pilgrims) is still missing in action, every day he waits for its arrival to no avail.  Today his plan was to forgo walking so he could purchase the necessities needed to keep moving forward.  As a family, we pooled together providing socks, shorts, shirts, everything needed to ensure he would not miss a day of walking.

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Our walk begins through the Sorginaritzaga Forest (Oak Grove of Witches). In the 16th century, the forest was the home to many covens. The trail starts out fairly flat as we walk through several picturesque villages. The first village we enter is Burguete, Ernest Hemingway vacationed here and mentions the village in his novel The Sun Also Rises. At Espinal, I wisely take care of important Camino necessities; a toilet break, have my credential stamped and then move on as there are many miles ahead of me. The path has taken us into another forest which includes several steep climbs and nasty biting flies. The temperature for the day is the upper 80’s, the shade from the beech trees is appreciated and makes for a pleasant walk.

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I don’t know about witches in the first forest but I can attest to some demon steps in this forest! My tight muscles find stepping down them painful. Thank goodness for poles! Still, the beauty is breathtaking. I feel one with the landscape and farm animals I pass, my mind is at peace and my heart full of joy.  It is these times I thank the Lord for all that he has given me. Although I am not worthy the Lord blesses me with many riches.

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Demon Steps

As I leave the forest and cross the highway I see my fellow peregrinos at a food trailer set up in a parking lot. They have a seat and a delicious cool sangria waiting for me. Best Camino family ever! The proprietor has set up a basket with a sign that reads  “Need a husband? Leave your underwear here. Looking for a wife? Magic happens here!”. My sweet crazy roomie leaves a sports bra, can’t wait to see what the magic brings to her.

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Not really sure how, but the food truck has run out of the good sangria so its time to move on.  Zubiri (village of the bridge), the final destination for the day, is rocky two-mile trek downhill from here. Entering into  Zubiri we walk over the Rabie Bridge a 12th-century medieval bridge that crosses over the River Arga. Folklore claims animals passing under the bridge’s arches would be miraculously healed of any illness (including rabies!), thus the bridge’s name. I’m not sure how factual the folklore is but, I do know the refreshing water lured our peregrinos to enter and relax.  After soothing sore muscles and tired feet in the cool, clear water our group loaded up on the bus and headed to our hotel in Pamplona

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